Part of Horse Previews Magazine website. Posted on 02/16/99; 10:00:00 AM.
Update: Idaho Found 9/17/98
As most of you know Idaho was stolen 9/26/97 and 51 weeks later we found her and brought her home on 9/17/98. This is a miracle in our life. Many letters have poured in with congratulations et. We know many of you thought we would never see the horse again. There were times we thought the same.
One thing remained constant in our search for Idaho....hope. We always felt that if she had not been slaughter or put to death somehow that if we searched long enough she would be found. And why not? We had people all over the USA, Canada and some other countries looking for Idaho. It would just take time and a lot of it. The question that kept damping our spirits was if she was alive or not.
We could not have kept going if we had not received daily, from the entire time we started on the Internet, letters from all over the world. These letters included offers of help to put up flyers, print flyers, to create stolen horse sections on web pages, to include our story in horse publications,et. One person who does not want her name mention has guided us from the beginning in how to work with media, law enforcement, sale barns and anything you can think of. Without her guidance we would have been lost from the beginning. She never gave up on us. Another sent poems, quotes, antidotes that were so timely with our emotions it was uncanny.
There were the letters from other theft victims like ourselves. We remember having mixed feelings when one would be found...happy for the owners but sad it was not ours. Now we are happy for us and sad for the ones not found. To all of you who are still looking....our hearts are still with you. We will continue looking too. We hope you will one day feel the way we did the day we found Idaho.
Others were sneaking around pastures in other states looking for our horse when we would receive a tip that was too far away to get to. We found these sleuths a little amusing sometimes. They brought humor to our household imagining these people peaking from behind trees and hiding behind bushes. Some even went "undercover" right up to the person in question to check out their facilities. Because of these brave people we have several "suspects" for trafficking stolen horses and other offenses in our files. We hoped they were never to daring and wouldn't endanger themselves. We know from doing a little of this ourselves how nerve wrecking this type of investigating can be. Believe me, out back in the dark at a backwoods sale barn is not where you want to spend your time! Many times there are things you don't want to be a party to going on.
When we needed a background check on a "person of question" somewhere in the US we were able to find out what we needed from people who knew of them and found out for us. Tips came in many times and we checked out all of them the best we could. There were only a few "sick" tips.
There was one tip that haunted us and it was from a lady who said her husband had seen Idaho at a sale and was said to be stolen. The person who had her was "suppose" to be taking her back to her owner. We contacted the lady for more information and the response we got was a very cold, "That is all I know." After that she would not respond. We figured she ask her husband questions and for whatever reason he told her to stay out of it. In the end we found out that this event did actually occur at a sale barn. If she had continued to help we could have found Idaho back in the fall.
To all of you who were not afraid to get involved in whatever way you chose there, will never be enough ways for us to say thank you. We never felt alone because every day someone was there offering a prayer or just words of support. The response to Idaho's theft from total strangers has always overwhelmed us. Through encouragement we also started our quest to educate the pubic about horse theft, prevention, recovery, identification, et....a quest we will continue.
When Idaho was stolen, as in many crimes, our trust in people was shattered. That combined with the loss that we felt effected our outlook on everyone. Our son was so scared that the people who took Idaho may come back and get him that he slept in our room for a long time. (We are happy to report that he is back in his own room now) We have come to understand that with any crime there are normal reactions to be expected. I think we have done them all except anger...at least not too much of it.
In the process of recovery the people on the net and the many who called were the ones who ultimately helped us back to be able to trust again. In this world not many want to take the time to help another, especially a stranger. Each day another stranger was there helping us. Many times we sat in front of the computer or on the phone just amazed at the help that poured in. Sometimes it came when we felt like giving up but we couldn't because we had to answer a letter or take care of something someone sent us. You kept us going when we were low on energy.
So you see, when we said we could never thank you enough for all you have done we meant it. Your actions, no matter how big or how small, not only helped us find Idaho but you helped to repair our soles and trust in humanity. I will end this part of the letter with the following quote that someone sent to us very early last year. We lived by this quote daily.
Hope is the companion of power, and mother of success; for who so hopes strongly has within him the gift of miracles. ~ Samuel Smiles ~
We thank you all and we thank God for our miracle. The Metcalfe Family
Part II will , ... rest of the story....
This part of the story really started when the arrest was made in NC of the man who had in possession two stolen horses from TN and a stolen trailer from Shelby, NC. For those of you who have not made the geographic connection, we are from Shelby. From that arrest, and much persistence on our parts we finally got information from the sheriff's department which related to that arrest. It lead to the man in Cleveland, TN., last know person to have possession of her. He had said that he had in April but as it turns out he had her much earlier.
Labor Day weekend Harold and I took a spontaneous trip starting out that morning and heading to Nashville. My mother had died a couple of weeks before and we just needed to get away. We decided that Nashville was too far away so we hung a left in Asheville and ended up in Franklin, NC for the night. Keep in mind that we always have flyers with us and every time I looked at the map Cleveland kept popping up. To shorten this story we ended up in Cleveland on Sunday. As luck would have it we passed a rodeo sign with the name of the sale barn Idaho was sold at on 9/29/97. We stopped and asked directions, travel there and put up flyers. We had a very strange feeling standing in that empty sale barn. Some very poor looking horses were in the paddocks out back. My heart went out to them. We talked with some male members of the family who live in the surrounding area, some neighbors and neighbors of the last know owner. More flyers were posted in convenience stores, restaurants et. We then traveled on to Chattanooga for the night.
The next day on the way back we turned one exit too soon near Cleveland and stopped to ask directions. We put another flyer up in that convenience store.
One week later on Sunday we got a call from a person who saw that flyer. They told us that without a doubt this was our horse. They recognized the head immediately. They continued to tell us that they had seen this horse in several horse shows and had even talked to some family members who had the horse. They promised to ask around and find out the name and whatever else they could find out because they knew it was the same horse. They called back the next day with name, address and phone number late the next night. For some reason we did not call on Tuesday. They said the spot was on the left side of the horse. Maybe because we just were not ready for another disappointment? On Wednesday morning I received an e-mail from someone I had told about this tip. It very simply said, "Debi, I wouldn't discount that lead...after all I get left & right mixed up, maybe they do too!" I called the number immediately and within minutes of talking to the woman she said , "This is your horse." We talked about color, personality traits, gait and many more things. She seemed convinced but I still wasn't. I mean could it be after all this time we had finally located her? I sent her an e-mail flyer and waited for a call. Nothing. It drove me nuts and I was about to die.
The lady seemed nice on the other end of the phone and I was trying to get her to let us come see the horse. Her 10 year old child had been riding the horse and showing it in horse shows. They seemed to have a real attachment to her and if it was our horse I found myself feeling bad for her. We needed to know if it truly this was our horse.
I finally got in touch with her again and we talked some more. I went to Harold's work and talked the matter over with him and bought him up to date. We knew we were going to TN. Later in the day I called her again. I just couldn't wait. I don't feel right telling you what took place in that conversation but I will tell you there were tears shed on both parts. They didn't want to loose the horse and we needed to see her. When I hung up the phone we still didn't have permission to see the horse.
Mean time I had called the authorities and the TN. State Cattle/Horse Livestock officer. He was already working this case and went to see the person this family got the horse from. He admitted that he sold the horse in the flyer to them in February. The officer then called us late in the afternoon and ask us how soon we could get there. We grabbed a toothbrush, change of underwear and took off. It is the first time in our lives that list were not left for grandma to take care of the kids, clothes laid out for school, et. We just told them that whatever they needed they would have to figure it out themselves this time. We didn't have time and we were off.
We arrived in Athens, TN around 10:30 at night. There we met with the State officer and an officer at the Sheriff's department. They had been to the home but did not see the horse, only a video. We had instructions for the next day from them. We were informed that if this horse was ours we needed to remove her immediately and take her home. One problem with that.....we forgot the truck and trailer in our excitement. We drove our car because we didn't have time to hitch up, gas up and drive over those big mountains. (5 hours) We knew it would take us longer. We almost feel silly admitting this now but we really had planned on letting the family have some time with her to say good- bye and we would pick her up on Monday. While traveling we had a lot of time to think about everything that had transpired and we realized me had made a mistake.
We checked into a motel around 12:00 for what was the longest night I can ever remember having. Neither one of us slept a wink.
The next day was didn't go as smoothly as we had envisioned. We had to identify Idaho from video because the family would not tell us or law enforcement where she was for a long time. After a couple of hours finally we had a location. We never did meet the family.
Back to the video....The most emotional time we have had since the day she disappeared was in an officers office looking at that video. When it came on we saw her from across a show ring. Both of us at the same time said, "That's her!!!!" The emotions that had been inside all these months poured out of both of us in tears and sobs. I just don't know how to explain that moment. We watched Idaho move around the ring. We watched her turn her head in that old familiar way. The movement of her body as she racked, the way she held her head and tail.....all were the same. We watched her turn sideways when they stopped....something Idaho always did. Her color was lighter and you could hardly see her spot on the side. Even if this horse had been purple we would have still known her. We held each other and wept. The search was over.
Still something inside us wouldn't completely believe it until we physically saw her. That came later when the sheriff's department went and took Idaho out of her dwelling and lead her by lead rope to a nearby church parking lot. We were waiting with other officers there. I have not seen a more beautiful sight in a long time as that head and tail held high coming up the road. We just had to touch her all over. There was never any doubt it was her.
The rest of the day was traveling and arranging for transportation. The LT. arranged a trailer to meet us at the church. Through the help of another stranger we were able to arrange transport to Asheville, NC. A friend who had trained Idaho and stabled her for us at times picked her up there and brought her home.
She remained calm during the whole trip until we pulled into our yard. We feel sure she recognized us because of the muzzling she did when she first saw us. We know she knew she was home because she dance around and it was all you could do to hold her to get her into the ring. She whinnied. She snorted. She talked. She pranced. What a sight to see even in dim light because it was 9:00 at night. A little later we put her daughter in with her and they sniffed each other. Back to normal. Her best grooming buddy was grooming with her over the fence shortly after that. I wish you all could have seen this. The horse that was dominated the group quickly showed her dominance again...just like before.
Later that night I couldn't find Harold. I walked outside and found him in the riding ring talking to Idaho. Where ever he went she followed. It was like they were stuck together...once again.
We took her on our annual mountain trip the next day with our horse club. We were so proud to have her with us. We didn't get to ride all three trail riding trips because Idaho wasn't up to the hills like she use to be. She had plenty of get up and go but you could tell she was't ready for the mountains like she once was.
She is in good shape. She is thinner than when she left but certainly not too thin. The family who had her from February took good care of her. She had been completely body clipped and her spot was cut really close, almost gone. It appeared gray instead of brown. She still has good muscle tone. That is a miracle too since she was said to be skin and bones when they bought her. They called her Lucy.
Upon returning from the mountains we turned Idaho out with the rest of the horses and prepared for the usual chase and buck scene you see when a newcomer arrives. She remembered the short cut through the woods. The dominate mares paid her no attention. Her daughter and her buddy walked along side of her as she walked to a place in the pasture and started eating. No fanfare at all. Idaho, we believe knows she is home.
If you would to see an updated flyer reply and we will send you one. Feel free to pass this along to all your friends who have followed our story. Again, thank you for your time and all of your help. The Metcalfe Family
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